I would argue that any basketball game involving Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson is one that you wouldn’t want to miss. They’ve proven on countless occasions that on any given night, they’re bound to do something spectacular, and there’s nothing like the feeling of watching history being made right before your very eyes. Factor in the rest of Golden State’s championship-defending roster and the bountiful talent blossoming throughout the rest of the NBA, and there are plenty of reasons to follow the Warriors all season long. Still, out of the 82 games on the regular season schedule, some stick out as more can’t-miss than others. With that, here are my top five can’t-miss games of the Warriors’ 2017-18 regular season (in chronological order):
1. October 17th vs. Houston
Golden State’s championship defense begins with a big-time bang. They’ll host the Rockets on Opening Night, in what will be Houston’s sole visit to Oracle Arena for the entire 2017-18 regular season campaign. The Rockets made major noise in the offseason when they acquired Chris Paul in a trade with the Clippers, who will now join MVP runner-up James Harden in forming one of the most star-studded backcourts in the history of the sport. Of course, the Splash Brothers are certainly no slouch either, and it will be quite a sight to see those two backcourt tandems go at each other in the first game of the season. But before the game action commences, there will be some other business to attend to first. Prior to tipoff, the Warriors will receive their Championship rings, and Golden State’s 2016-17 NBA Championship banner will be raised to the rafters.
2. November 22nd at Oklahoma City
In case you’ve forgotten, the games between the Warriors and Thunder last season, particularly the ones in Oklahoma City, were action-packed and emotion-filled. On November 22nd, the two sides will meet for the first time in 2017-18, and there’s likely to be even more star power involved than a year ago. Russell Westbrook is now the reigning league MVP, meaning that the last four NBA MVPs will all be involved in this game in Oklahoma City (Curry and Durant being the others). Oh, and then there’s the matter of Paul George, whom the Thunder acquired in an offseason trade with the Indiana Pacers. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the fireworks.
3. December 25th vs. Cleveland
Three seasons in a row, the Warriors and Cavaliers have met in the NBA Finals. Come December 25th, the two sides will combine for their third Christmas Day matchup in the last three years. It was Cleveland taking home the victory in 2016-17, but this time around, the Christmas Day game will take place at Oracle Arena, where the Dubs hope to get a better result. The two teams have played so many big games in recent memory, and this has the potential to be yet another. Miss it, and you run the risk of getting a giant metaphorical lump of coal in your stocking.
4. January 27th vs. Boston
Paul George wasn’t the only star player to change teams and conferences this offseason. The Boston Celtics finished with the best record in the East last season, and could be even better in the year ahead after signing Gordon Hayward (formerly of the Utah Jazz) in free agency. As an Eastern Conference team, the Celtics only make one trip to the Bay Area each season, and January 27th will offer Warriors fans and New England transplants their only chance to see the Dubs and Celtics play at Oracle Arena in 2017-18. Boston has played Golden State as well as anyone over the last couple years, and they’ve actually beaten the Warriors at Oracle in each of the last two seasons. This could be one of the best games of the entire 2017-18 NBA campaign.
5. February 10th vs. San Antonio
Sensing a theme here? Each of the four aforementioned matchups features Warriors’ opponents that seem likely to make it to the postseason in 2017-18, and the Spurs are no different. The last time San Antonio missed out on the playoffs, Stephen Curry was nine years old. So, yeah, it’s been awhile. The Spurs were the second-best team in the NBA last season, and the only team in the Association outside of the Warriors to top the 60-win threshold. Their season came to an end after Golden State swept them in four games in the Western Conference Finals, and February 10th will represent their first of two games at Oracle Arena in 2017-18.
- November 8th vs. Minnesota – What happens when you add Jimmy Butler, Jamal Crawford, Taj Gibson and Jeff Teague to a young roster that already includes cornerstones Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins? I’m not sure, but I bet Tom Thibodeau is excited to find out. This will be the first of three regular season matchups between the Warriors and Timberwolves in 2017-18.
- November 29th at L.A. Lakers – The Lakers are in the midst of their longest playoff drought in franchise history, but the arrival of second overall pick Lonzo Ball has injected excitement into the long-storied franchise. Despite their recent struggles, the Lakers have managed to beat the Warriors once in each of the last three years. The November 29th matchup represents the first of four games between the Warriors and Lakers in the season ahead, with the first three of those encounters occurring in a span of 24 days.
- December 11th vs. Portland – On their way to the 2016-17 Championship, the Warriors became the first team in NBA history with three consecutive four-game series sweeps to begin a postseason. The first of those sweeps came against the Portland Trail Blazers, and the Blazers will get their first chance at redemption on December 11th in what will be their lone visit to the Bay Area during the 2017-18 regular season.
- January 30th at Utah – Along with the Spurs and Trail Blazers, the Jazz were the other team to get swept by Golden State in the 2016-17 playoffs. January 30th will represent the Warriors’ first trip to Salt Lake City since eliminating Utah in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals, in what will surely be a raucous road environment.
- February 22nd vs. L.A. Clippers – Yes, the Warriors have dominated the matchup in recent seasons. Yes, Chris Paul is now in Houston. But plenty of the ingredients that made the Warriors-Clippers one of the best rivalries in the NBA still remain, and when these two teams get together, memorable events often transpire. The February 22nd contest represents the fourth and final regular season matchup of the two teams in 2017-18, as well as the first game following the All-Star break for both sides.